IMF projects gloomy economic forecast for Saudi Arabia

IMF projects gloomy economic forecast for Saudi Arabia

/ Financial News / Wednesday, 23 January 2019 10:19

The International Monetary Fund has projected a lower economic growth forecast for Saudi Arabia in 2019 due to the ongoing issues regarding oil prices and increase in geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.

In the World Economic Outlook update compiled by the IMF for January, the global lender lowered its projection for the KSA’s GDP to 1.8%, which is down from 2.4% figure it posted in its October report.

However, despite the rather gloomy and ominous projections being made by the IMF, financial forecasters in Riyadh are estimating a 2.6% increase in GDP growth for 2019.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s No.1 exporter of crude, but the Kingdom has been affected badly by tumbling oil prices which seen its economy shrink by 0.9% in 2017. It has rebounded as expected with a 2.3% expansion made in 2018, largely attributed to higher oil prices and an increase in output.

The IMF also lowered its 2019 growth forecast for the region including the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan by 0.3 percentage points to 2.4 percent.

The decision by the US to reverse the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and impose sanctions has weakened oil output growth, whilst the geopolitical standoff between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, both of whom are members of OPEC, has strained finances.

Major Gulf oil exporters, including Saudi Arabia, have posted budget deficits since the crash of the global oil market in 2014.

Brent crude had hit $85 a barrel in early October, but prices plunged more than 40 percent over the following two months on oversupply and fears a trade war between the United States and China could slash demand as diplomatic relations between Beijing and Washington deteriorated.

Prices recovered to just above $60 a barrel since a new deal came into effect, under which OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers agreed to trim output by 1.2 million bpd. Oil prices have remained volatile in recent months, hitting $55 a barrel in early January.

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